Thursday, December 19, 2013

Used Car Review - Suzuki Alto (2007-Current)

On the eleventh day of Christmas Myk Belmonte gave to me... eleven Suzuki Altos

2007-Current Suzuki Alto

Indians do have a love affair with small vehicles, which Maruti Suzuki builds and sells. Their immense popularity led them to their number one manufacturer status in the said country. Still, many of the locals still drive their Maruti 800 hatchbacks and Omni minivans despite their age and the influx of new and cheaper rivals (think of the Tata Nano).

To tell you the truth, the Alto sold in Japan is way way different than the one marketed in India and exported worldwide. What you see here in this article is the fifth generation Alto suited for worldwide requirements (except for Japan) built by the Indian subsidiary. You see, the Celerio we have locally is not available in Japan.

After their success with the Swift hatchback, it was time for Suzuki Philippines to bring in the Alto. Simlar to an actor more suited for drama than comedy, the Alto looked frumpy and plain compared with the Picanto, Spark, and even the QQ. It was definitely a hit among fuel conscious motorists and fleet buyers when gas prices spiked. Initially available in 0.8 guise in both Standard and Deluxe variants, with a K10 model (having a 1.0 engine) launched in November 2011 and discontinued in April 2013 when the Alto line was revamped.

Value and Costs
Love to own one but hate to bite the first owner depreciation? Then a second hand Alto is a prudent choice, with secondhand units being priced between P185,000-P330,000. If possible, hunt for a unit sold in February 2011 and later to get the remaining chunk of the warranty. Old model deals can be had in private owners while recent ones in repossessed bank lots.

Prospective Alto buyers must be warned for these maladies: worn clutch, brittle plastics, and broken driver side window crank. Otherwise, this won't fail you and would not drain your bank account.

Exterior and Interior
Cost cutting is evident in the Alto, so we remind you not to expect too much. This vehicle is devoid of character which staring at one will brighten up your day. Steel rims are standard across the range (hubcap covers are standard in Deluxe) and black bumpers are only available on Standard models. No rear wiper can be found in the basic model.

The basic theme continues on to the interior, with some cheap finishes lifted out from a 90s budget car. Choosing a Deluxe or K10 gives you power windows and nothing else. Regardless of what you get, all models gain power steering and a CD player with two speakers. Space is only good for four people and whenever shifting to reverse, be prepared to hit the companion beside you. Small bags (or bayongs) are welcome but not a weeks worth of groceries from Savemore.

Even with a smallish engine, both the F8D 796cc carrying 47hp at 6,200rpm and 68Nm at 3,500rpm and K10B 996cc with 68hp at 6,200rpm and 90Nm at 3,500rpm can reach the triple digit speed zone when loaded appropriately. This is not a vehicle you would star yourself at drag races but something you'll appreciate inside the city and even inclines, credit its short gearing. Fuel economy is a top strength and top reason to buy this car.

Driving Impressions
You'll enjoy how practical the Alto is especially when you're on the move. Weaving through traffic and parking are no biggie, you'll just laugh at people driving hulking SUV's even when they are just alone. It may be light but it'll give you a dull steering and somewhat unstable suspension, which you will live with it. Unlike the cheapest car in India, it will carry you and three passengers with ease.

Shunning the popular Corollas and Sentras for a dinky size Alto is one bold move. Buyers who can live with the bare interior, smallish engine, and uninspiring driving characteristics will get more for the hatchback's fuel miser image. Others who want more in terms of amenities and power might want to check out the Alto's competition having similar prices.

The Good:
  • Cheap to buy
  • Cheap to maintain
  • Does not harm the planet
The Bad:
  • Less space
  • Less power
  • Less sophistication
The Pick: 1.0 K10

Engines: 796cc F8D and 996cc K10B 3-cylinder gasoline
Power: 47hp @ 6,200rpm (0.8), 68hp @ 6,200rpm (1.0)
Torque: 68Nm @ 3,500rpm (0.8), 90Nm @ 3,500rpm (1.0)
Fuel Consumption: 12-16km/L (city), 16-20km/L (highway) (*estimated and varies)
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Suspension: Front independent McPherson strut, rear rigid axle - 3 link

Price (New): P369,000-P490,000
Price (Now): P185,000-P330,000
Rivals: Chery QQ, Chevrolet Spark, Hyundai i10, Hyundai Eon, Kia Picanto, Suzuki Celerio
On Sale: 2007-Current

Suzuki Auto Pasig - (02) 571-6780
Suzuki Auto E. Rodriguez - (02) 726-3747
Suzuki Auto Manila Bay - (02) 556-1579

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